I love the story of the blind man in John chapter 9, and how Jesus healing him reveals a beautiful heart. But what I would like to focus on in this story is how Jesus responds to the question his disciples ask at the beginning of the story — who sinned, that he should be born blind? We read in John 9:3, “‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life'” (NIV).
I am lately finding too many Christians interested in cause and effect. I suppose that knowing a cause for something might teach us a lesson that we can avoid the undesirable outcome. But in this unredeemed world we live in, stuff happens. It is not always possible or even helpful to place the blame. The question of greatest importance, perhaps, is once the stuff happens, what are we going to do about it? The one that gets asked a lot, and is also important, is where was God when the stuff was happening? The latter question most of the time isn’t important in figuring out the solution, but is keenly important if the answers we come up with actually hinder our ability to walk closely with God.
In this story, Jesus skips the root cause question entirely. He does not want to turn this into a cause and effect story. What Jesus sees is a man in need, and through His ministry to the man, he receives his physical sight, and is born anew spiritually — getting spiritual sight, too. I really love this whole story, because the man who was healed can see the hypocrisy of the religious leaders when they question him about how he was healed and he recognizes that truth is the last thing they are looking for. I feel sorry for him that he underwent such interrogation, and all he did to deserve it was get healed and tell the truth about what he knew. Yet he seems to come out stronger as a result, more determined to walk the path of truth, and able to recognize that Jesus was indeed from God.
Bad things happen in life — even to us. The devil wants us to blame God. Faith tells us to trust God’s character to being loving, kind, compassionate, faithful, and trustworthy. While the bad things seem to put us on a path that we would not choose for ourselves, God often has plans that require us to stretch beyond our comfort zones. And yes, for a while, it seems like only darkness is present. But as Jesus enables our spiritual eyes to open, we see that God never abandoned us, and if we keep looking, we see how he turns the evil around so that not only are we blessed (Romans 8:29-39), but we will be able to minister powerfully to others (2 Corinthians 1).